Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘passport’

15th May 2016

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that those attempting to travel to the United States on the Visa Waiver Program may find themselves being denied  admission to the USA due to the fact they do not have a biometric passport (also known as an electronic passport or an e-passport). A recent posting on the official website of the United States Customs and Border Protection service notes that as of April 1, 2016 those traveling to the USA without a biometrically encoded electronic passport will be denied entry to the United States.

In most countries, electronic passports have been in wide use for some time, but some older travel documents and those issued by certain countries may not have the biometric chip. Therefore, one should look at one’s passport and use the link above to decipher whether or not one’s passport has biometric encoding and therefore complies with recently issued rules and regulations.

It should be noted that the visa waiver program requires that most travelers traveling to the USA on a waiver utilize the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (or ESTA) before they travel to the USA. In a way ESTA is a sort of pre-travel authorization although not a visa per se.

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9th May 2010

In a recent statement, the Director of the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), Timothy J. Healy, discussed the overall methodology of the Center and how it has had a positive impact upon anti-terrorism initiatives of both the United States and the global community. The following in an excerpt from the statement, which has been distributed by AILA:

Established in 2003, the TSC is a multi-agency center that connects the law enforcement communities with the Intelligence Community by consolidating information about known and suspected terrorists into a single Terrorist Screening Database, which is commonly referred to as the “Terrorist Watchlist.” The TSC facilitates terrorist screening operations, helps coordinate the law enforcement responses to terrorist encounters developed during the screening process, and captures intelligence information resulting from screening.


Of paramount significance is the TSC’s success in making this critical information accessible to the people who need it most – the law enforcement officers who patrol our streets, the Customs and Border Protection Officers who protect our borders, and our other domestic or foreign partners who conduct terrorist screening every day. In the six years since we began operations, the Terrorist Watchlist has become the world’s most comprehensive and widely shared database of terrorist identities. The current terrorist watchlisting and screening enterprise is an excellent example of interagency information sharing whose success is due to the superb collaborative efforts between the TSC, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and other members of the Intelligence Community.

It is interesting to note the international character of this initiative. In a previous posting on this blog the author noted that Thai Immigration authorities have begun linking their database to international and American information databases in order to more accurately investigate individuals who may be a threat to security.

On a related note, it should be mentioned that due to the new synergy that has arisen as a result of international cross referencing of criminal record databases those Americans living or staying in a foreign country could have significant problems if they have an American warrant as having a US Criminal warrant could result is passport confiscation by a Consular Officer at an American Citizen Services section of a US Consulate overseas. This usually happens when Americans with such warrants need to obtain a new passport or add pages to their current passport. In order to forestall these types of problems, it is advisable to speak to an American attorney in order to assess one’s options with regard to dealing with the matter in the legally prescribed manner.

For further information about Thai Immigration, please see: Thailand Visa.

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18th April 2010

Traveling to the United States of America, for any purpose, can be a costly and arduous endeavor. Recently the American Immigration Lawyers Association distributed a a memorandum that was promulgated by the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Service. In this memorandum the Foreign Affairs Manual was referenced. The following is a direct quotation from that memorandum:

“The Department of State (DOS) recently revised 9 FAM 41.104 Exhibit I, entitled, “Countries that Extend Passport Validity for an Additional Six Months after Expiration.” The Inspector’s Field Manual (IFM) Appendix 15.2 will be amended to reflect the new DOS 6-month list.”

The Inspectors Field Manual is important because it notes the countries that will extend passport validity by six months past the date of passport expiration. The memorandum goes further and discusses specific countries that will no longer be recognized as allowing this type of extension past the underlying passport’s validity:

“Among the countries that have been removed from the 6-month list since the last revision of the IFM are the following: Bangladesh, Cuba, Ecuador, Holy See, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Oman, Russia, Senegal, Sudan, Syria, and Togo.

We have posted this information in order to better inform those travelers from the aforementioned countries who are accustomed to traveling to the USA on a passport with little, or no, official validity left. It would be unfortunate for an individual from one of the countries listed above to travel to the USA only to find that they are inadmissible due to the fact that they no longer have a travel document that is recognized as valid by United States Customs and Border Protection.

Thai Authorities generally require that those applying for a Thai visa have at least 6 months of stated validity on their passport. This is due to the fact that Thai officials do not like to issue visas with a validity that stretches substantially past the the date of the underlying passport’s validity period. In some cases, a Thai tourist visa can be obtained when there is little validity left on the passport, but these cases are rare. In cases involving the multiple entry one year Thai business visa or the one year Thai O visa, it has become practically a hard and fast rule that the validity of the passport be more than 6 months before a visa will be issued.

For further information about passports and travel to the USA please see: US Visa Thailand. For further insight into Thai Immigration matters please see: Thailand visa.

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15th February 2010

A recently proposed rule would increase the fees charged by the US Department of State for services performed at Embassies and Consulates abroad. To quote the AILA website:

“This rule proposes adjustments in current fees for consular services. The Department of State is adjusting the fees in light of an independent cost of service study’s (“CoSS”) findings that the U.S. Government is not fully covering its costs for providing these services under the current fee structure. The primary objective of the adjustments to the Schedule of Fees is to ensure that fees for consular services reflect costs to the United States of providing the services.”

Although not exhaustive, the following quotes list the proposed fee increases for services that will likely have the biggest impact upon US Citizens resident abroad:

“Passport Book Application Services

The Department is increasing the application fee for a passport book for an adult (age 17 and older) from $55 to $70. The application fee for a passport book for a minor (age 16 and younger) will remain at $40. The CoSS estimated that the cost of processing first-time passport applications for both adults and minors is $105.80 based on a projected FY10 workload of 11.9 million. This cost includes border security costs covered by the passport book security surcharge, discussed immediately below. Because a minor passport book has a validity of just five years, in contrast with the ten-year validity period of an adult passport book, the Department has decided to leave the minor passport book application fee at $40, and allocate the remainder of the cost of processing minor passport book applications to the adult passport application fee.”

The proposed rule goes further as there will be further fee increases for new passport seekers:

“Passport Book Security Surcharge

The Department is increasing the passport book security surcharge from $20 to $40 in order to cover the costs of increased border security which includes, but is not limited to, enhanced biometric features in the document itself. The passport book security surcharge is the same for adult passport books and for minor passport books.”

The addition of visa pages to an American’s passport has always been a courtesy provided free of charge. However, the proposed rule would change this:

“Additional Passport Visa Pages

In the past, the Department provided extra pages in a customer’s passport, to which foreign countries’ visas may then be affixed, at no charge. The CoSS found that the cost of the pages themselves, of having the pages placed in the book in a secure manner by trained personnel, and of completing the required security checks results in a cost to the U.S. Government of $82.48 based on a projected FY10 workload of 218,000. Therefore, the Department will charge $82 for this service.”

For those American Citizens who have a child overseas a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is necessary in order to ultimately obtain a US passport for the child. That being said, the fee for a CRBA would be increased under the newly proposed rule:

“Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States

The CoSS found that the cost of accepting and processing an application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States is $197.28 based on an FY10 workload projection of 80,000 applications. The Department has decided to raise the fee from $65 to $100, still significantly less than cost, based on its view that too high a fee might deter U.S. citizen parents from properly documenting the citizenship of their children at birth, a development the Department feels would be detrimental to national interests.”

The Immigrant visa fees associated with the processing of Immigrant family based visa applications (such as IR-1 visas and CR-1 visas) are to be decreased pursuant to the proposed rule:

“Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee

The Department is changing the fee for processing an immigrant visa from $355 for all immigrant visas, to a four-tiered fee based on CoSS estimates for each discrete category of immigrant visa, as applications for certain applications cost more to process than others. Accordingly, the application fee for a family-based (immediate relative and preference) visa (processed on the basis of an I-130, I-600 or I-800 petition) will be $330.”

This being said, employment based application fees are to rise dramatically. Immigrant visa fees should not be confused with non-immigrant dual intent visa fees (such as those payable for the obtainment of a K1 visa or a K3 Visa) which are expected to rise in the future. Finally, an often overlooked service of the American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or a US Consulate involves document notarization and legalization:

“Providing Documentary Services

The CoSS found the cost to the U.S. Government of providing documentary services overseas is $76.36 per service based on a projected FY 2010 workload of 380,000 services. These are primarily notarial services, certification of true copies, provision of documents, and authentications. However, the Department is raising these fees only from $30 to $50, lower than cost, in order to minimize the impact on the public.”

The above changes in the fee structure for Consular services will hopefully result in increased funds which will provide Americans with better services when they need important documentation.

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13th January 2010

Thailand visa issues seem to be one of the most popular topics discussed on this blog. This may be due to the fact that many people who travel to the Kingdom of Thailand find that they would prefer to remain for a long period of time. Unfortunately, obtaining a Thai long term visa seems to be getting more and more difficult as visa regulations become increasingly complex and cumbersome. That being said, there is one rule that can have a major impact upon one’s chances of obtaining a Thai visa. This rule deals with foreign passport validity.

In many cases, Thai Consular Officers working at Consulates and Embassies overseas are hesitant to provide long term visas to Thailand if the applicant’s underlying passport is not valid for the entire duration of the visa. This being said, there is a bright line rule at most Consulates: the applicant must have at least 6 months of validity left on their passport in order for any visa to be issued. However, as a practical matter Consular Officers have a great deal of discretion regarding visa issuance and short term passport validity is frowned upon. This negative attitude could translate into a Thai visa application’s denial if the officer is uncomfortable issuing a visa to the applicant based upon the totality of the circumstances.

For those interested in obtaining a Thailand visa it is wise to have a passport that is valid for at least one year. Further, some posts prefer machine readable passports as they provide an extra level of security and act as a means of preventing visa fraud because it is more difficult to forge a machine readable travel document.

As with US Consulates and Embassies, each Thai Consulate or Thai Embassy has a slightly unique procedure for processing visa applications and as a result the above information should be checked against the post policies and guidelines at the time of application. As a general rule, a Thai visa applicant would be wise to present a well-founded application along with a machine readable passport valid for more than six months, but preferably more than one year.

For Americans seeking a new passport in Thailand please contact the American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy Bangkok as this office is primarily responsible for passport issuance to those resident in Thailand. For those living in Northern Thailand the US Consulate Chiang Mai can also assist with passport procurement for American Citizens.

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9th July 2009

Travelers coming to Thailand have different Thai visa options depending upon the passport they hold. Some people will be granted a visa exemption upon arrival in the Kingdom while others may be granted an actual visa when they arrive. The validity of this extension can vary depending upon relations between the passport holder’s home country and the Kingdom of Thailand. Below are lists of countries and the special Thai Immigration privileges accorded to their nationals. For those thinking of traveling to Thailand it is probably wise to double check the visa rules before coming to Thailand as Thai Immigration regulations can change relatively quickly. As a result, the information contained below can become out of date.

Passport holders from the following countries shall be entitled to apply for a 15 day visa on arrival in Thailand:

Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Taiwan, Ukraine, Australia.

Passport holders from this list of countries may enter Thailand on a 30 day visa exemption:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, The Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vietnam

Passport holders from this list of countries may enter Thailand on a 90 day visa exemption:

Peru, Brazil, The Republic of Korea

Passport holders from these countries may enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa based upon a bilateral Treaty or Agreement with the Kingdom of Thailand:

Hong Kong, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Russia, Vietnam

Passport holders from these countries may enter Thailand for 90 days without a visa based upon a bilateral Treaty or Agreement with the Kingdom of Thailand:

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, The Republic of Korea, Peru

Holders of Diplomatic Passports from the following countries may enter and remain in the Kingdom of Thailand without a visa:

Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Myanmar, Oman, Vietnam

Holders of Diplomatic Passports from these countries may enter and remain in Thailand for 90 days without obtaining a visa:

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nepal, Panama, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Tunisia, Turkey,
Ukraine, Uruguay

For more information, please see the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs by clicking here

(Please do not mistake this post as being a suitable substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional. No attorney-client relationship is created between the reader and the author of this posting.)

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22nd June 2009

A common misconception among Americans is the idea that a United States Citizen is only allowed to obtain one Passport. Strictly speaking, this is not true. An American Citizen may obtain a second United States passport, provided they have a valid reason for doing so.

The relevant regulations currently manifest the long held position of the American State Department that no one ought to posses more than one bona fide United States passport at any time, unless the person is expressly permitted to do so by the State Department. The State Department recognizes that there are extenuating circumstances in which it may be necessary for one US Citizen to have two passports.

Allocation of a second passport is deemed to be a special dispensation and therefore a rare exception to normal State Department protocol. For this reason, issuance of second passports will only be approved after the applicant shows a justifiable reason why the duplicate travel document should be issued. Unlike some countries that issue second passports which are restricted to certain regions, an American second passport can be utilized for traveling anywhere on the planet in the same manner as a normal US passport. However, second United States passports will only be issued with a maximum validity of two years. At one time, second passports were able to be extended. Today, the validity of second passport cannot be extended.  Should a secondary passport expire, then a new passport application must be tendered in order to receive another secondary passport.

In cases where one is curious about obtaining a second passport, first understand that this is not something that the State Department does lightly. One must show a truly compelling reason to issue a second passport. In the past, people obtained second passports with relative ease. Today, it would seem that the State Department heavily scrutinizes those seeking a second passport and will make every effort to ensure that those seeking said travel document are doing so for a legitimate reason.

The reason for the heightened caution with regard to second passports probably has something to do with the increased administrative work that likely goes into keeping track of those Citizens who have dual passports. Further, immigration offices around the world, including Thai Immigration, often use an entrant’s passport number as a reference for that person while in the country. This would not be the only reference, but the presence of two passport numbers could make clerical work more difficult.

Understand that obtaining a second passport is not the same as obtaining additional US visa pages. Many expatriates need to obtain additional visa pages due to the fact that they have used all of their visa pages while being stamped in and out of various foreign countries. As a courtesy, most United States diplomatic missions will replace visa pages free of charge.

For more information about second US passports please see this link

For more information about American Visas from Thailand please see K-1 visa Thailand

(Please note that nothing in this post should be taken as legal advice. Please consult an attorney before making any legal decisions. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this post.)

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21st April 2009

A Brief History of Passports

Posted by : admin

Early Passports

The History of passports and visas is rather fascinating particularly from the standpoint of current immigration policy. Although many people believe that passports were originally intended for shipping purposes, in fact, their original intent seems to have been for inland travel as the etymology of the word “passport,” is derived from the word “porte,” which was the gate to a Medieval walled city-state (this is also the reason behind the use of the phrase, “sublime porte,” when speaking of the old Ottoman Empire because Ambassadors to the court were met at the gates of the City).

Passports were originally designed as letters of safe conduct provided by sovereigns to be used by subjects in far off provinces or foreign lands to prove that they were subjects of their home Kingdom. King Henry the 5th of England is widely credited as having invented the precursor of the modern passport. This document was used by his subjects to prove their nationality in foreign countries.

Early Modern Passports

During the French Revolution and subsequent emigration by many of the upper classes, the use of passports denoted permission by the government for the bearer to leave the country and thus would not cause the bearer political problems upon return to France. This was the situation in which Charles Maurice Talleyrand de Perigord was placed during the Terror that overtook France after the revolution. Were it not for his obtainment of a Passport and subsequent quasi-exile, Talleyrand may very possibly never have returned to France, or at least not have returned to a place in government. Many French Emigres who failed to obtain a passport either died or were never able to return to France. Such was the importance of the passport at this time.

Modern Passports

After WWI Passports became more widely used as identification documents. Passports began being made in booklet form shortly before the first World War, but as they were not in wide usage, few people had them.  It was around the turn of the 20th century that passports began to have photographs of the bearer in them. Throughout the 20th century passports evolved into the documents we know today through the integration of watermarks, holograms, and biometric information chips.  Today passports are used not only for immigration purposes, but for identification and banking purposes as well.

Current Passport Categories

There are a few types of passports:

Ordinary Tourist Passports (The type held by the vast majority of passport holders)

Diplomatic Passports (used by visiting diplomats, contrary to popular belief, they do not confer diplomatic immunity, only the host nation can confer diplomatic immunity)

Official Passports (held by those on official business from a foreign government, but not for diplomatic activity)

Dual Passports

Many countries allow for dual nationality and therefore permit (either explicitly or tacitly) a citizen retaining a passport of a foreign nation. Other countries will not allow dual nationality and the obtainment of a foreign passport could result in the automatic revocation of said country’s passport.

The United States currently allows American citizens to have dual nationality.

For Information About US Immigration Law please see:

US Visa Thailand

American Visa Thailand

K1 Visa Thailand

Note: None of the above information should be taken as legal advice.

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